Westerville Caring & Sharing once again is looking to fill the school supply lists for about 300 Westerville City School District students, and the group needs help from the community to make it possible.
The local nonprofit group is conducting its annual back-to-school drive, asking for notebooks, pens and pencils, markers, glue sticks and backpacks to provide supplies to Westerville students in need.
"We do kindergarten through 12th grade, so there isn't any school supplies we don't need," said Caring & Sharing Vice President Mary Pugh.
Especially needed are backpacks, particularly those for middle- and high-school aged students, Pugh said.
Because of the price, the group tends to get fewer backpacks, and most of the backpacks collected are geared to elementary students.
Donations can be dropped off at locations throughout the community. Drop boxes have been placed at the Westerville Public Library, 126 S. State St.; the Westerville Municipal Building, 21 S. State St.; the Westerville Community Center, 350 N. Cleveland Ave.; the Westerville Planning and Development building, 64 E. Walnut St.; and KEMBA, 622 N. State St.
Pugh said the group also can accommodate the pick up or drop off of larger donations, and she said organizers encourage businesses and community groups to take up the cause and hold supply drives on behalf of Caring & Sharing.
"We would love to see businesses or small groups or organizations do a neighborhood drive or something like that, because that would be very helpful," Pugh said.
Any person or group with a larger donation can contact Caring & Sharing at 614-470-4320.
Caring & Sharing also seeks monetary donations, which are used to fill any supply gaps the group has and provide gift cards to program participants for the purchase of back-to-school clothing.
Anyone donating money can be assured that it goes straight to those Caring & Sharing serves, Pugh said.
"Since we are 100 percent charity, there are no paid staff members. We have to donate 100 percent back to the children," she said.
For those in need of school supplies, the group provides them for any Westerville student who would be financially eligible for the district's free- or reduced-price lunch program, though the students do not have to be signed up for the program to qualify.
Caring & Sharing will be handing out applications to potential program recipients from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Thursday, July 18 in the study room of the Westerville Public Library, or those interested can call Caring & Sharing at 614-470-4320, though Pugh said the group tries not to mail applications to save costs.
Pugh said the group looks for more students to serve each year, as organizers know they are serving only about one-third of Westerville students who qualify for the free- and reduced-price lunch program.
Just because someone was not eligible in a previous year, Pugh said, doesn't mean that they will not be eligible this year if the family's financial situation has changed.
"We will look at any application," Pugh said. "We would like to serve more."